As the sun rose over the Eastern Suburbs last Wednesday, it was the very impressive launch by Fairfax Publications Pty Ltd of its Domain East, that shone brightly in the eyes of the residents. The floodgates have now well and truly opened and those “rivers of gold” have swiftly moved from a trickle to a torrent. As quick as a flash, it was straight to to research when the Wentworth Courier last faced a bloodied battle for survival. Back in January 1990, Jonathan Chancellor, Property Editor for The Sydney Morning Herald wrote in his Title Deeds column, “Disgruntled agents are set to challenge the property advertisement strangleholds of two longstanding local publications, the Wentworth Courier and the Manly Daily”. This was the launch of the now failed Eastern Express, which had the backing of estate agents, who took shares in the new venture. Today, the only thing these agents ‘share’ is the will to succeed, and from all reports they are all right behind the latest craze to hit the property industry. It is a bold engagement to take on the might of the Hannan family who own the Wentworth Courier, however in the driver’s seat this time, is the powerful Fairfax Publications Pty Ltd, which also publish Domain in Saturday’s edition of The Sydney Morning Herald. Fairfax, in a perfectly timed, three-pronged attack, is actively promoting its smart and savvy property portal. Mindful that its online business required a much more user friendly approach, it certainly achieved it, when it launched its “Dream big, think smart” aggressive online marketing campaign. As suggested previously in ‘Virtual Realty News’ it would only be a matter of time, before one of the players in the Trojan War, would package its businesses together to take a stranglehold in this fierce and competitive battle. Fairfax, has taken this initiative which now positions it in poll position on the grid.

The Fairfax battle plan is strategic, with an air of confidence and for a third of the cost of a whole page in the Wentworth Courier, its show bag is packed with property persuasions. Domain East offers a whole page colour, plus a 10 x 1 colour display advertisement in Saturday’s Sydney Morning Herald, a online listing, and a few other sweeteners (no mention of steak knives). Although in this instance, the knives are well and truly out !! We understand it has no plan to start a Domain North, although one can only assume that it will just be a matter of time. Should it launch Domain North, Domain West and Domain South, the Cumberland Group would then be firmly in its sights. Obviously, its compass attack is East, North, South and West. With the pending launch of ‘Just Listed’, it makes no excuses that it wants to be the number one property portal, which would further consolidate its dominance of classified newspaper advertising.

Given the strong bond that Fairfax already has with Mosman, (this municipality is one of its strongholds), The Mosman Daily would look very vulnerable, and chances of survival would be listed as critical and ‘possibly extinct’. What remains to be seen is when will the Wentworth Courier and the Cumberland Group go into damage control, as ignorance to the growing support of Fairfax would almost certainly lead to its demise. To be remotely competitive it will have to ‘slash’, not partially reduce its colour page costing.

At the end of June 2003 there were 10,001 real estate services businesses operating in Australia, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics. 3,639 were franchised real estate agents, 4545 non-franchised agents and 1,818 other real estate services businesses. When combined, the total number of those employed was 76,599, and during 2002-03, income generated by these businesses was $7,524.7 million. It makes sense that Fairfax has gone into instant overdrive as it wants to be first point of contact in the battle of the Trojan War !!

With the September Quarter now finished, the home unit market was the star performer for us, with Marize Bellomo smashing the all time office record with eighteen exchanged properties, after 5/37 Moruben Road sold today. On the housing side, 31 Ourimbah Road and 27 Bay Street have also found new owners this week, so we are really looking forward to the December Quarter, as once again there is anecdotal evidence before our eyes, that our property market has changed direction. One of the most staggering statistics for us has been the enormous increase in our web hits here at RWM. Last year, our monthly hits were in the early 300,000, in August we posted our all time highest with 484,420 and we just smashed it again as in September we hit 575,510. The weekly edition every Friday, records upwards of 50,000. Our record was achieved two weeks ago with 61,240. Oh! the power of the Internet !!

It will be compelling viewing over the next few weeks to watch how fast the new Domain East flourishes. Word is that the Double Bay heavyweight agents who were absent from the first edition, are entering the ring, and they too are sitting in the Fairfax corner. Memo to Fairfax !! When are you launching Domain North ? There will be plenty of cheers and clinks at that launch……^__^

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